Jason S.

Framemeister XRGB Mini

14 posts in this topic

I recently had a birthday and my wife surprised me with a Framemeister XRGB Mini. For those that dont know, this is an upconverting device for classic gaming consoles. It upconverts to 1080p and outputs over HDMI. It's largely considered the best such device out there, so im pretty excited to see what it can do.

 

Xrgb-mini-front.jpg

 

Xrgb-mini-back.jpg

 

Source and Wiki Guide

 

I have read a lot about this device prior to receiving it yesterday, but I had no hands-on experience. There's quite a learning curve with this device as it has a ton of on-screen options and, initially, everything is in Japanese. The very first thing I needed to do was install the English version of the firmware on the device. What i quickly found online were varying and incomplete techniques.

 

For this guide i want to include complete instructions about updating the firmware. As I get used to the device i want to share my experiences with it - how to actually use the device, and some of the settings I choose along the way.

 

Firmware Update Instructions

 

1. Download the firmware from this link.

2. Format an SDHC MicroSD card as FAT32. (I have read that max support is 16GB and SDXC is not supported)

3. Unzip and put the 'XRGBMini' folder on the MicroSD card. Copy the folder to the root. Do not simply copy the subdirectories. Copy the entire 'XRGBMini' folder.

4. Unplug the power cable from the XRGB Mini.

5. Insert the MicroSD card into Mini.

6. Plug power back into the Mini. The firmware update will begin immediately.

7. Green lights will flash alternately then pulse. This takes 45-60 seconds.

8. The fw update process is complete when the red power light begins to pulse slowly on and off. The unit is now in standby mode.

9. Remove the MicroSD card and power the Mini back on. You do not need to remove the power cable prior to removing the MicroSD card.

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I want one of these, but the asking price is a bit steep. Shame its not sold stateside as it would likely be cheaper.

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1 minute ago, slamfire92 said:

I want one of these, but the asking price is a bit steep. Shame its not sold stateside as it would likely be cheaper.

The price is steep. i waited like a year to even think about purchasing it. Got mine from a reliable seller on Amazon. It shipped pretty fast from japan.

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1 hour ago, Jason S. said:

The price is steep. i waited like a year to even think about purchasing it. Got mine from a reliable seller on Amazon. It shipped pretty fast from japan.

What did you get yours for If you don't mind me asking? I might wait it out a bit longer as I'm sure there will be a 4K upgraded model.

 

Thanks for posting those instructions. They'll come in handy for when I do get one. Please post more helpful tips as you find them :)

 

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6 hours ago, slamfire92 said:

What did you get yours for If you don't mind me asking? I might wait it out a bit longer as I'm sure there will be a 4K upgraded model.

 

Thanks for posting those instructions. They'll come in handy for when I do get one. Please post more helpful tips as you find them :)

 

i hope to have some more time on sunday to play with the unit. too busy over today and tomorrow! my wife paid approx $360. quite a nice surprise, eh??? (Y)

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I'll have to buy my own. My birthday is coming up and the only thing I'm expecting from my wife is a kick in the nuts :(

 

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Just now, slamfire92 said:

I'll have to buy my own. My birthday is coming up and the only thing I'm expecting from my wife is a kick in the nuts :(

 

well before you buy, let me try out my 1st console at least. i have the appropriate cable(s) for my SNES, so that'll be the 1st.

 

speaking of which, as i go along, the topic of cables will be my next guide.

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I've finally had some time to mess with the unit. I want to talk a bit about cables first, though.

 

In order to get the very best picture quality from these aging consoles, RGB output must be used. Some consoles have native support for RGB, other dont. Some only support RGB with a mod. I dont care to get into that. i dont have the skills to do this, and dont want to pay someone to do a mod for me.

 

RGB separates the separate Red, Green, Blue, and Luma signals onto their own wires instead of combining them. This provides the best picture quality since these signals dont have to 'share' a single wire. Composite is a good example of this. There's a single Yellow cable that handles RGB and Luma. This works, sure, but the image quality is going to suffer. The XRGB Mini does support composite, and handles it just fine.

 

Contrary to popular belief, however, Component cables does not separate into RGB, even though the cables are red, green and blue. Component carries the ‘red’ over red, ‘blue’ over blue, but carries ‘luma’ over the green cable. This is the brightness information of the image. The ‘green’ color is instead interpolated from the other two colors then displayed on the screen.

 

So, RGB is the best option, but how does one get RGB out of the console? That’s where SCART comes into play. Those in PAL regions will know this connector. We, here in NTSC regions, never got SCART, and generally have no idea what that is. The best we ever got in NTSC regions was composite, S-Video and component. The benefit of SCART is that it supports RGB, and its 21 wires carry/separate the signal onto individual wires. So, in order to get RGB from your old consoles, a SCART cable is required.

 

The XRGB Mini does not have a native SCART connector. Instead, it has a ‘mini’ SCART connector that looks similar to S-Video. Included in the box is a JP21-to-Mini cable into which other JP21 cables can be connected. But wait, this is JP21 and not SCART.

 

In Japan, there was a competing protocol called JP21. It looks like a SCART cable, but is wired differently, so it cannot be used. That means that the included cable is useless. One must purchase a compatible “SCART-to-Mini” cable. Finally, with this, you can buy a SCART cable for your specific console. The path of data goes like this:

 

Console --> AV Out-to-SCART Cable --> SCART-to-Mini cable --> XRGB Mini --> HDMI Out

 

For the SNES, which supports RGB natively, I purchased an “AV Out-to-SCART” cable from a seller on ebay. I then bought the “SCART-to-Mini” cable from a UK seller. I will elaborate further about this in my next post. Should anyone care about specifics, let me know, and I can provide more info about the cables and sellers.

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The very 1st console I tried to use with the XRGB Mini was my old SNES. I bought the appropriate cables, detailed in my previous post, and plugged it in. To my dismay the image looked horrible. It was kind of working, but the image was pixelated and partially duplicated underneath the main image.

 

After reseating the game and the cables, the results were the same. I thought it might be the game, so I tried another. Same result. Then I tried a 3rd. same.

 

So at this point I thought that the cables I bought were bad. I found a set of composite cables. Again, the same distorted image. At this point I thought that the copper contacts on the system, or the games, were to blame. After all, the console is over 20yrs old. I did my best to clean the contacts with the infamous “credit card” method. I took isopropyl alcohol w/ a q-tip and cleaned the cartridges.

 

I plugged everything back in after making sure it was dry. Same result. So, in the end, I gave up with the SNES. Im going to have to chalk that one up to pure age. I have no idea what to try next.

 

Next, I tried my Gamecube. I’ll save that for my next post.

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I never owned a Gamecube during its lifespan. At the time I was way more into PC gaming and was also a poor college student. I only just bought my Gamecube in 2015. I picked up a handful of games and to my surprise, it worked on my TV only using a terrible composite cable. That said, it looked like garbage. So back on the shelf it went until I got my XRGB Mini.

 

During the Gamecube’s lifespan, Nintendo released two primary versions in the NTSC format. The initial release saw a version with both an AV Out port as well as a Digital Out port. This allowed the GC to output at 480p instead of the default 480i. This made a subtle, but meaningful difference in image quality on older TVs that were branded ‘EDTV.’ Keep in mind that this is early 2000s, so most people’s TVs still didn’t have the option for digital out. The vast majority of people used the AV Out port, which provided composite (analog) output to a CRT TV. S-Video is also supported, but I’ll get back to that in a minute.

 

A bit later in the GC lifecycle, Nintendo released a set of component cables that would leverage the Digital Out port. This Digital Out port allows for pure RGB out to a TV; however, Component cables are not wired for RGB. So there’s still a problem here. The GC can output RGB but there’s no cable that supports RGB – again, composite and component don’t. Lastly, these official Nintendo component cables go for over $200 on ebay. Yikes.

 

This brings me to my purchase. I did not know any of this when I bought my GC. I bought a used one that didn’t have the Digital Out port. This is the version of the GC that Nintendo released about 2 yrs after the initial version. It only has an AV Out port that is analog and does not support RGB. That means im limited to composite or S-Video. Luckily for me, I had an AV Out-to-S-video cable.

 

I plugged in the GC and the XRGB Mini booted to show a proper, working game on my TV. Great, it works! I quickly found that there were horrible interlacing issues that make the games almost unplayable. At first I thought it was due to the crappy, cheap S-Video cable I had. After a bit of research I found some settings to tweak on the Mini, and voila, no more interlacing problems.

 

Overall, games look as they should. The Mini isn’t a miracle device for 480i content. Games still look good, and I’d wager that this is probably the best a GC is going to look on an HDTV. Without heavy modifications, or expensive soldering PCBs, I’m not going to get RGB from my GC. It’s certainly not worth my time or money to do it.

 

For my next post, I’ll tackle the N64. This was an easy one b/c it uses the same AV Out-to-S-video cable that I just used for my GC.

 

Update: I misspoke on one topic regarding RGB support. From the RetroRGB website: “Only PAL Game Cube's support RGB natively. NTSC GameCube's support S-Video, which still produces a good picture.”

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As I mentioned in my last post, the benefit of owning these Nintendo consoles is that they tended to use the same, exact AV Out-to-S-Video cables. Next, I tried my N64.

 

There’s not much to say about the experience other than it works as you’d expect. The N64’s graphics have not held up over the years. It’s simply not going to look that good on a modern TV. The XRGB Mini does a decent job at upscaling and keeping the image sync’d; so, at the very least, it’s a fully playable experience.

 

One thing of note is that games which supported the extra RAM pack do look better. That’s probably b/c those games supported higher resolution textures. I popped in Perfect Dark, found the setting to enable the RAM expansion option, and I was off and playing. Of the games I tried, Perfect Dark definitely looks the best. Other games, such as Banjo Kazooie, look pretty rough. Again, the Mini can only do so much with this low res content.

That said, without heavy modification, an N64 will never support RGB. The best output I can achieve is good ole S-Video.

 

Next console I want to try is either my Saturn or Dreamcast. I don’t have the proper cable for the Saturn yet. Once I get that, I’ll post my experiences. As always, if anyone has questions, feel free to ask!

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i bet that unit works great, too. keep in mind, though, it'll only handle SCART whereas the Framemeister has other inputs. still, it's like a 1/10th of the price :pinch:

 

i know i havent updated this guide since last year. i do intend to update it further, but i need to purchase another couple cables. I'm missing SCART cables for my Genesis and one other... other systems wont even support RGB w/o modification, so i'm limited to such things as S-Video. It's a perfectly fine option to get pretty good picture quality since i'm not in the market to get any hardware mods done on my systems.

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